In June 1885 Edwin Raworth, the son of Richard H Raworth, a Harrogate builder, qualified as a solicitor and in 1887 opened his own office close to the present Yorkshire Bank in James Street, Harrogate. Shortly after he started his practice he was joined by Jabez Butterworth (the grandfather of one of the former partners).
By 1899 Harrogate and Edwin Raworth's practice were thriving, and the firm had move to new premises on Station Bridge. He was a very early adopted of the use of the fledgling telephone, with the number "Harrogate 35"!
Shortly after starting with Edwin Raworth, Jabez Butterworth was given his articles, he qualified as a solicitor in 1905 and they became partners as ‘Raworth & Co.’ in 1911. Jabez Butterworth was awarded the military OBE for his wartime service.
Following Edwin Raworth’s death Raworth & Co amalgamated with the firm of Lomas, Walker & Wilkinson (whose partners where James Lomas-Walker and James Wilkinson) the new firm being called Raworth, Lomas-Walker, Butterworth & Wilkinson
The firm grew during the twenties and thirties and by 1939 was in Westminster Chambers on Station Parade. They needed more space, acquired our present location Eton House, and moved across the road. There was real concern that they were "moving too far out of town"!
Ernest Woods joined Raworth, Lomas-Walker, Butterworth & Wilkinson after coming top in the UK law examinations, and in 1941 succeeded Jabez Butterworth as the Clerk to the Harrogate Justices; he gave outstanding service to the local court for twenty-three years.
Taylor Wilkinson and Jim Butterworth (sons of James Wilkinson and Jabez Butterworth), who both saw wartime service, became partners in the firm in 1939 and 1949 respectively.
Change was in the air. The firm's name was shortened to just ‘Raworths’, Anne Taylor who had trained with the firm became a partner (only 2% of solicitors were women at the time) and by investing in the then latest technology we acquired the first Xerox copier in the region and the telephone number "Harrogate 66666", Christopher Butterworth joined in 1966; the third generation of his family in the firm.
Solicitors practices had been unchanged for decades, but technological change provided opportunities to innovate and improve services. We were pioneers of word-processing - our third WP machine is in the Science Museum. Prime Minister Harold Wilson created a Royal Commission on Legal Services setting the wheels in motion for further change.
The pace of change in the profession continued, particularly with the seismic shift of new professional rules allowing firms to advertise and actively promote themselves. We acquired our first computer in 1980 (long before PCs) and built a substantial extension to Eton House, which was opened in 1987.
Zoe Robinson became a partner in 1991. We started to adopt modern management practices and systems and joined LawGroup, a grouping of like-minded forward looking firms. We became involved in external auditing, franchising and tendering, Investors in People and the Law Society's Lexcel Practice Management Standards and specialist panel accreditation schemes. Registered www.raworths.co.uk in 1996, and we started to develop an expertise in ADR/Mediation.
In 2001 Simon Morris joined to launch our commercial team and move us from a relatively generalist practice dealing with a majority of private client work to an equal balance between working for individuals and businesses. Deborah Boylan and Simon Morris become partners in 2001 and 2005 respectively, In 2006 Raworths became ‘Raworths LLP’, and by 2008 Raworths had a complement of seventy partners and staff.
We made modifications to Eton House and concentrated all our partners and staff on the single site. In 2012 we celebrated our 125th anniversary by sponsoring the ‘Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival’ with an appearance by BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth, the great-grand-daughter of Edwin Raworth. In 2012 Zoe Robinson took over as Managing Partner from Christopher Butterworth (after his 20 years in the role).